Archives For Holy Spirit

Praying for Doctors

Erik Cooper —  August 4, 2010 — 8 Comments

Her name is Jasmine and she lives in a Honduran slum.  We met her on our first CityCom overseas adventure this past June.  She captured all of us (especially Mike).

Perhaps unexpectedly.

Not accidentally.

Jasmine is developmentally challenged. She can’t walk or speak.  And to complicate matters, her parents are mute (they can hear but not talk).  Getting an accurate understanding of her challenges was difficult, to say the least.

Through scribbled shards of paper and animated charade-like gesturing, Jasmine’s family was desperately asking for help.  And our compassionate American-Christian spirit immediately kicked into action.

We had translators on the phone with doctors.  Businessmen brainstorming potential funding for therapy.  Logistical minds coordinating transportation.

It was beautiful in so many ways.

And terribly sad in another.

The conviction of the Holy Spirit flattened me in the comfort of our hotel room later that night.  In all our rightly-motivated desire to live out compassion for this beautiful little girl, I failed.

Miserably.

As a leader, I never stopped the flurry of godly activity to do the most important thing.

Pray that God would heal her.

I was raised pentecostal (I know, there’s a support group for that).  And even though I think our particular church was pretty well balanced, I still grew up around a lot of “hyper-charismatics” (if I grew up around you don’t worry, I’m definitely referring to those other people).  People who wielded the Holy Spirit as a manipulation tool or to empower their own insecurity (hey, we keep it real here).  I mean really, how do you ever present a counterpoint to someone who starts every sentence with “God told me?

Over the years, I began to subconsciously distance myself from this unhealthy expression. And somewhere in the mix I also seemed to lose my belief in the mysterious, supernatural, and biblical way God longs to interact with our lives.

I stopped praying for healing and started praying for doctors.

I overcorrected.

Which actually made me incorrect.

I’m glad our team mobilized in a tangible expression of love for this precious little girl. It was the right thing to do.  I believe God works through medicine, and I know He equips us with the ingenuity and creativity to respond to practical needs.  That is His Spirit at work.

But I also believe in the miraculous.  And sometimes we simply reason Him out of the equation.

I want faith that embraces mystery.  That risks the unknown.  That expects God to intervene.

Do I have that kind of faith? Or will my faith only ever be big enough to pray for doctors?

After a week to reflect on my Israel journey, I’ve summed the adventure into three takeaways. Takeaways you can process yourself, even if you’ve never stepped foot out of your own hometown:

A STATEMENT:

Standing in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, I watched lines of people stop to touch, kiss, and pray on a giant rock slab. This stone, according to tradition, is the place Jesus body was prepared for burial after He was taken from the cross (we later found it was placed in the entryway during a 19th Century renovation of the church, but who really cares about details?).

After days of watching buses of tourists pile into these “holy sites,” and realizing my own propensity for getting caught up in the drama of these historic locations, I heard God make a clear statement from the vestibule of this Gothic church that will stay with me the rest of my life:

“Many people want the blessing of being where I’ve been, but so few want to pay the price to follow me where I’m going.

A QUESTION:

From the ruins of this Capernaum temple on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, Jesus spoke some of His most difficult words. Just days after He fed 5,000 people on a Galilean hillside with 5 loaves and 2 fish, He challenged many of these same people to embody the essence of Who He was, not only the blessing of what He could do for them.

Jesus loved to create unresolved tension.

After hearing these words, Scripture tells us many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. It’s easy to look backward and wonder how anyone could have stood in the physical presence of the Messiah and walked away. But standing in these temple ruins where Jesus Himself had stood, I heard Him ask me the question:

“If you had been standing here in this temple that day, would you have stayed with me or left like so many others?”

A PERSON

I grew up in a charismatic church movement. And honestly, over time I grew to resent it. Because of what I experienced in many “spirit-filled” encounters, I pushed the Holy Spirit away. I despised the manipulation. The abuse. The emotionalism. All with little evidence of truly transformed lives.

So I rejected the Spirit, too. Not overtly. Subtly. In my heart.

But standing in the Upper Room, the ascribed location for Acts 2, I realized my prior experience was mis-informing my current reality. What I was rejecting was the man-made charismatic subculture, not the Holy Spirit Himself. That would be asinine!

Jesus promised the Spirit to bring transformation, power, and the miraculous into our lives. The desire and ability to follow after Him. He is meant to be a normal reality of everyday life, not some crazed, event-driven emotional pursuit.

Why would I allow man’s abuse cause me to reject that offer?

A statement. A Question. A Person. This is what I brought home from Israel. How does it resonate with you?